After seeing Mozart’s Geburtshaus in Salzburg, it seemed a shame not to visit his museum here in Vienna, so after visiting the Sisi Museum, I headed for Stephansplatz, and wound my way through the medieval streets behind the Dom to find Mozart’s house – from Domgasse along Blutgasse to Singerstrasse. The museum itself is similar to the one in Salzburg, with similar artifacts and miniature opera stage sets. (I was saddened and surprised that in the performance of the Queen of the Night that they chose for the Magic Flute set, the soprano never. ever. hit the high F on pitch!) One of the dearest aspects, again, of visiting such a house is imagining where people slept, ate, and lived, and looking out the window at a view still very similar to what Mozart saw each day.
The view of the Stefansdom from these ancient streets is actually as beautiful as the full view from the Stefansplatz, and more intimate. The tilework on the roof is framed by the medieval buildings along Domgasse:
The very old streets, with buildings dating back as early as the 12th century, were beautiful at twilight. The cobblestones, slick with heavy mist, reflected the light from the ancient buildings. Blutgasse (“Blood Alley”) got its name, as the legend has it, from a massacre of Knights Templar in 1312 by imperialist forces.
The name of the street has attracted attention from contemporary vampire fans and ghost hunters, all hoping to find an even more supernatural history here, and when vampire stories were all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Countess Elizabeth Báthory was said to have lived here and murdered hundreds of young girls for their youth-preserving blood. Local paranormal investigators recently found more stories than evidence – (http://viennaghosthunters.net/seiten/blutgasse.html) – and the Báthory legend is now considered by scholars of vampire literature including Prof. Radu Florescu (whom I worked for as a secretary one summer at Boston College!) to be a misogynistic myth.
Fortunately, the street is also now occupied by the small, simple Vienna Peace Museum, one of the International Network of Museums for Peace: http://peacemuseumvienna.com/. I was unable to see the inner courtyard described by Duncan Smith in his wonderful guide book, “Only in Vienna,” with its legendary tree with a medieval sword (more likely a fragment of a fence around the tree), but you can visit it virtually on Youtube where Smith walks into the courtyard once owned by the Knights Templar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdS0mDdzeJM.